Leader: Warren von Pertz
Asst.: How Bailey
The third attempt to lead a scheduled climb, using the Sespe and Red Reef Canyon's approach to this challenging peak proved that the proverb is correct, and that the third time is the charm, since 42 of the 48 participants successfully attained the summit.
In the cool intermittent dawn and/or showers, highlighted by a double rainbow, the group of eager mountaineers assembled at the junction of Hwy. #33 and Rose Valley Road in anticipation of finally realizing a successful trip into this seldom visited area of the Los Padres.
Promptly at 7:35 a.m. the group hastily condensed from 25 cars into 10 cars, which immediately caravanned down the rough but passable Sespe Canyon road to the trailhead at Red Reef Canyon. Realizing that time was of the essence, the group started by 9 a.m. up the trail, pausing first at Horse Thief Camp, then at Ladybug Camp for a short rest before starting up the steeper ascent to the saddle on the main Topatopa Ridge.
Meanwhile the weather was steadily deteriorating as we progressed, from intermittent light showers at Ladybug to a steady drizzle at the saddle, where the group huddled in the lee for a fast snack.
Before assaulting the final cruddy knife ridge to the summit, the leader scanned the circle of wet/cold faces that sparkled with determination, and knew immediately that up was the only direction, so up we went.
Needless to say, the summit lay-over was of short duration, since the peak was encapsulated in ubiquitous clouds combined with a cold wind-driven rain. This was truly unfortunate, as the view from this peak on a clear day is spectacular.
After returning to the saddle for a short second snack, the group's return trip was a bit on the fast side, with only one rest stop at Horse Thief Camp. Since it had not rained in the canyon, none of the cars experienced difficulties in driving out to the highway, which was completed before dark.
Most everyone who participated expressed appreciation for this introduction into this beautiful unspoiled section of seldom traveled back country. Even though the very dramatic weather dampened their clothes, it did not dampen their spirits.